Busch won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, becoming the 31st different series champion and the first to win the title after missing the first 11 races of the season. To claim the series championship, Busch needed to finish the highest of the Championship 4 drivers, which also comprised of Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon. He earned the title in grand style with a first-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400. Busch and his older brother, Kurt, a 2004 Cup Series Champion, join Terry and Bobby Labonte as the only brothers to earn championship titles.
Busch is the second consecutive champion to win the title with a victory in the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick accomplished the feat last season.
After a wreck in the first NASCAR XFINITY Series race of the 2015 season left Busch with a broken foot and broken leg, it seemed all but impossible for him to win the championship title. Missing three months – a span of 11 races – due to his injury, Busch returned to his No. 18 Toyota at Charlotte in May, showing signs of rust by logging two finishes worse than 35th (36th at Dover; 43rd at Michigan) in his first four points events. He rounded into form his fifth race back by speeding to Victory Lane at Sonoma, catalyzing a dominant run of four wins in his next four starts, including three in a row at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis. Busch was able to earn enough points during the regular season to be in the top 30 drivers in points, and, with a waiver from NASCAR, claim a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
In addition to claiming his Sprint Cup Series Championship, Busch also claimed his first win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch previously had two wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (2009, 2010). Busch joins Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as the fourth driver to earn both a NSCS and NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.
“A dream of a lifetime, a dream come true and something that only happens every so often,” Busch said. “I just can’t believe with everything that happened this year and all the turmoil, all the things that I went through, that my wife (Samantha) went through and the people that are around me went through. This championship is all for these guys, my wife, my family, everyone who has had to sacrifice so much to get me here to this place today, whether it was on my team right now or on my teams in the past.”
In addition to winning the driver’s championship title tonight, Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs also claimed the Owner’s Championship title. The win is Joe Gibbs Racing’s fourth series owner championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (2000, 2002, and 2005).
“There’s so many firsts to this,” Gibbs said. “We have M&M’s – it’s their first and they’ve been in racing for 25 years. It’s Toyota’s first and it’s awesome that Bob Carter and everyone is here. We’ve got Kyle’s (Busch) first. We have Adam’s (Stevens) first – can you believe a rookie crew chief. We have Norm Miller from Interstate Batteries – he’s had two. It’s really a total team effort.”
Toyota, which began full-time racing in the NSCS in 2007, has now captured a driver’s championship in all three NASCAR national series. Busch also won Toyota its first NSCS race at Atlanta in 2008.
Brett Moffitt, driver of the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. Moffitt had one top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.